Catacomb Resident Blog

Building the Kingdom

29 October 2021

Job had it right: We are born naked and take nothing with us when we die. Solomon also said that this life is vanity, and that we should simply seize the situation God has granted us and obey Him in all things. The emphasis in Hebrew philosophy was on obedience as a path, and that the only real destination is outside this world.

In other words, don't take too seriously any human accomplishment. Sure, get involved and do what you can to make things excellent, but you should never imagine that the end product really matters. It's merely the context for what does matter: staying loyal to your Heavenly Father. You should assume from the start that there is much you cannot know or understand, so you just play along. But you never expect to really accomplish anything that matters. What really matters is the active commitment to the Lord as your Dad.

You don't own the final product, only the excellence you contribute. It's not the mission itself, but the obedience in executing the mission with your best effort. Your only real goal is being a reliable servant. This is the hardest thing for Western minds to grasp.

Look at the way American churches engage the world. Someone else said it best: "Their stated goals are bodies, buildings and budgets." It's just a business by another name, and it's even better if you can franchise it. In terms of how they actually operate, the business of holiness is just a footnote somewhere in the plans. Church leadership are always judged by how well they draw crowds and grow a larger operation. Nobody talks much about how they did or didn't help transform people into shining lights of divine glory.

King David knew how to rough it; he never lost his shepherd's heart. His faith killed giants. There was always a bunch of folks eager to follow him, a leader who inspired great sacrifice by sacrificing himself. That's the model for church leadership, the biblical image of manhood. Will you be faithful when everything is against you? Can you instill that kind of faith in others?

David's heir was the model of wisdom, yet sadly lacked the faith to walk in it. He built great things at a very heavy cost to his own people, and wasted vast quantities of their output on an insufferably large harem. He took on other self-aggrandizing projects that the nation didn't need. He built facilities and pacified enemies, but there wasn't much shalom in his kingdom. Solomon should have stopped with the Temple. His own heir in turn lost half the kingdom simply because he wanted to carry on the same bad habits.

We are already in the early stages of tribulation and wrath. Things will get tougher than we can imagine. America will be destroyed, and not just the political system. There will be significant bloodshed -- already has been, but it's masked. More will come. The economy will collapse; banking will become a nightmare. How many churches will survive as institutions when they lose the fat flow of dollars? Do you know any churches that will continue to operate without the facilities and big budgets? Do you know any church leaders who can live in a tent, who have cultivated a culture of faith in their people so they'll carry on as a family regardless of the situation?

No, I don't know any, either.

Will you be heartbroken when the church-house you built collapses or is confiscated? It was never yours in the first place. I'm holding forth the call: Build the kind of covenant family that remains intact until every member is dead. Build the legacy of thinking and operating in faith, the kind of faith that fells giants in protecting the sheep. Don't worry about a solid resume; build commitment in others. Use this world's goods to build shalom (peace with God). Invest everything you can get your hands on into a moral infrastructure that lodges in the hearts of future generations. That's what it means to build the Kingdom of Heaven.

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